Pei Modern Shines With Dinner with Producers Event
Pei Modern is a fine dining institution in Melbourne that thrills diners with its sophistication and flair, and honours its producers. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to a fabulous producers dinner at Pei Modern to get the low down and back story to some of the exquisite dishes. Pei Modern has taken all before it since its opening and chef Florent Gerardin is a passionate creative genius who has a gift in engaging diners with his larger than life personality. The evening was hosted by Alice in Frames (above) also a charismatic media and foodie identity (and friend of Pei Modern). The World Loves Melbourne has had several engaging experiences with Pei Modern and this restaurant has become a favoured destination for us.
Florent captivated diners with his humour and charm. We were thrilled to have the producers sit among us and mingle across the tables. These were some of Australia's finest producers.
Bowls of fresh top grade oysters were placed on the tables with much anticipation. We heard from Matt Wassnig from Signature Oysters who spoke about Sydney Rock Oysters being a different taste to Pacific Oysters. Pacific Oysters were farmed in Northern NSW in salty river conditions. We learned that Sydney Rock Oysters taste like seaweed nuance, while Pacific Oysters taste like the Ocean. Signature Oysters is changing the way oysters are marketed in Australia. With emphasis on quality, provenance and high quality branding, we aim to deliver a better oyster experience to end users as well as better prices and profitability back to farmers. Signature Oysters is a company owned by a collaboration of farmers and promoters combining to provide restaurants and retailers with Australia’s highest quality live oysters; available at any given time of year, delivered direct from the farm Australia wide.
We started off our paired beverages with a cider from Goulburn Valley, where Liz from Faire Ferments told us they have turned things around from just pure fruit production to producing products like cider from the top quality apples. This was a apple and pear cider blend of the highest quality, with a discernable dry style. Dry styles work well with food!
The story begins with the Goulburn Valley Food Co-Op which started when Heinz closed their tomato sauce factory in Girgarre. The Co-Op recently released their first product - a pasta and sauce combination pack made from GV tomatoes in family owned GV processing plants. Through this release they raised a great deal of attention to what is happening to production chains in the GV and the totally disproportionate way profits are distributed across the chain, with farmers getting a raw deal to the point that many are no longer making a living at all.
A GV pear grower – Dario Pulsoni – saw what the Co-Op was up to and wanted to help. He had just been contracted to grow 40 tonne of pears for a large processing company (for $50 a tonne!!!!!) but at the last moment they decided they only wanted 30 tonne so he was stuck with the remaining 10. He donated these pears to the Co-Op in the hope they could use them and at this point we decided to make cider.
Dario was paid $300 a tonne for the pears which means there’s still a decent margin and he gets fair pay for fair work. We started a company called Faire Ferments to manage the production and sale of the cider and we’re hoping with any luck we’ll be able to stop farmers having to pull their pear trees out of the ground and instead rouse some value adding to GV primary industries.
Wines were supplied by Damian North of Journey Wines. Journey Wines supplies top restaurants in Melbourne. His journey from sommelier to wine maker, began in Sydney; The Yarra Valley, Oregon USA; Margaret River; and now his return to the Yarra Valley. These wines are elegant and have amazing depth, our favourites being the Pinot Noir and the Heathcote Shiraz (medium bodied, food friendly).
Damian’s journey into the world of wine began working as a sommelier at landmark Sydney restaurants like the original Tetsuya’s in Rozelle and Pier at Rose Bay. Deciding that his future lay in the intriguing world of wine, he studied winemaking at Charles Sturt University and moved to the Yarra Valley where he spent a number of years as assistant winemaker at TarraWarra Estate.
Like other winemakers before him, an obsession with pinot noir took over Damian's life and, with an understanding wife and two young sons in tow, he took off to Oregon in the USA to do nothing but make pinot for three years at Benton-Lane Winery. While he loved Oregon and the immersion in pinot noir winemaking that it provided, Damian still felt the call of his other wine mistress - chardonnay. When the opportunity arose to move to Margaret River and take up the position of winemaker at internationally renowned Leeuwin Estate, it was too good to resist. Five years at Leeuwin Estate was an incredible experience, and took his winemaking to a whole new level.
Damian’s long-held dream to start his own wine label has seen the journey come full circle, with his return to the Yarra Valley (now with three energetic boys) and the creation of Journey Wines. Damian sources the fruit for Journey Wines from a number of exceptional vineyard sites in the Yarra Valley and Heathcote, and makes the wines at the Medhurst winery in the Yarra.
The artwork on the Journey Wines labels tell the story of Damian's journey in wine. Linocut artist Shana James was commissioned to create a series of unique works that convey the story of the journey in beautiful imagery.
Blackmore smoked beef, kohl rabi & pumpkin seed was a sensation. We were receiving 2 courses of David Blackmore Wagyu beef! This time the beef was teamed with incredible kohl rabi lettuce from Peter Schreurs and Sons Vegetable Farm. This lettuce is a versatile vegetable, used 12 months of the year. You can find Peter Scheurs and Sons in the St Kilda and Albert Park Farmers Markets.
Established in 1964, Peter Schreurs and Sons Vegetable Farm has over 40 years experience in growing some of the best quality vegetables on the market. We specialise in growing 7 different vegetable varieties which are Leeks, Parsnip, Baby Cos Lettuce, Baby Endive, Baby Wombok, Kohl Rabi and Radicchio.
One of our main goals in producing fresh vegetables is to work towards producing them using sustainable practices. We are focussing on what we know to be best practice. Best practice is taking on all the information from conventional farming, organics, biodynamics, traditional and modern farming and applying this to our production fields. What we are achieving through this, is our farm has a more diverse and resilient natural environment, with production fields that are healthier becoming more productive, and the business as a whole remains viable and progressive securing the future for our employees and families.
Barramundi, pine mushrooms & chicken jus was a stunning dish, full of flavour. Barramundi was produced from a Barramundi farm in Melbourne (Werribee) in 28 degrees tanks!
Wagyu brisket cooked for 2 days then smoked for 5 hours and parsnip & mustard foam was possibly the best meat dish we ever had in our lives. You just want to savour every morsel of the delectable marbled beef. Ben Blackmore told us about Wagyu genetics and how there was an opportunity to get pure Wagyu from Japan in 1988. The Wagyu marbling has become famous. Some 95% of Wagyu in Australia is cross breed but David Blackmore Wagyu supplies the pure product. David Blackmore exports to 20 countries and even now competes with Japan! It takes about 4 years to produce every animal Ben told us. He also told us Wagyu fat is not unhealthy.
The final course, Holy Goat 'skyla' cheese and smoked grapes & honeycomb was a triumph. We heard from Jesse of Holy Goat Cheese, who shared her story of how they are farming goats in a sheep grazing district. They milk about 100 goats daily to produce rich cheese. The goats are pampered and well looked after. Cheese is made in the French style with lactic curd and salted by hand. Jesse advised eating the cheese at room temperature to get the aromatic quality. Jesse told us you can taste nuances of the cheese across seasons, with summer bringing a peppery nuance.
The Pei Modern Producers Dinner was a memorable night, and showcased the extraordinary fresh ingredients the restaurant uses in it's kitchen.